PUL-I-KHUMRI (Pajhwok): Gypsum from Sheikh Jalal Mine in Baghlan-i-Markzai district of northern Baghlan province is illegally extracted by local irresponsible armed men and gypsum processing factories since last seven years while the government is yet to take any steps to stop it.
According to the Mines and Petroleum Department of Baghlan province, the Sheikh Jalal mine extraction contract was awarded to four people namely Mohammad Yousuf, HabibRahman, Qasim Khan and Sher Mohammad by the Mines and Petroleum Enterprise in February 2011 before the establishment of Mines and Petroleum Department in the province.
The department says the contract was signed for a period of one year, but it was extended on the request of the four people and with the approval of the enterprise until 2015. But documents show that the gypsum has been extracted illegally by local irresponsible armed men and plaster processing factories after the end of the contract.
Illegal extraction of gypsum:
Documents show that the Mines and Petroleum Department in a letter to Baghlan governor’s house in April 2016 said that gypsum from the Sheikh Jalal Gypsum Mine was illegally extracted by gypsum processing factories.
The letter states that factory owners paid high amount of money to local illegal armed men to let them extract the mineral during Fridays and during night and then transfer the gypsum in trucks covered with tarpaulin to Kabul and other provinces for sale.
The department also sent a letter to Baghlan police headquarters to stop transfer of gypsum on highways.
Just a few days after the first letter, Baghlan Mines and Petroleum Department sent another letter to the governor’s house in which the department said that all factories, particularly the ones located in Baghlan-i-Markazi district pay money to illegal armed men to support the illegal extraction and transfer of the mineral on sub-routes to Kunduz, Kabul and other provinces.
The letter stated that a number of trucks transferring illegally extracted gypsum were earlier stopped on Baghlan-Kabul and Baghlan-Kunduz highways, but they were later allowed to continue the transfer.
The governor’s house in a letter to Baghlan police headquarters in April 2017 said that some ‘opportunists’ were illegally extracting gypsum in Baghlan-i-Markazi district and secretly transferred it to Kabul and other provinces.
In another letter a few days later, the governor’s house sent to the police headquarters in January 2019 said that Sheikh Jalal Gypsum Mine and Saypich Gypsum Mine were illegally extracted by TajGul, Hafiz and Dostum, all illegal local armed men. This letter was also shared with the intelligence agency.
A few months later, the governor’s house in a letter to Baghlan police said that all government organs, companies and figures could get benefit of the construction material after an agreement with the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum.
However, the letter asked security forces to prevent figures from illegally extracting and transferring gypsum stones, lime stones, sand, gravel and other resources.
In July 2019, Baghlan Mines and Petroleum Department in a letter to the Sectorial Department said that all government organs and individuals could get benefit of construction materials based on an agreement with the relevant ministry following the presidential decree No. 3826.
The Mines and Petroleum Department in this letter also asked security forces to prevent illegal extraction of natural resources.
Gypsum from Sheikh Jalal Mine is extracted by illegal armed men: People
Noorullah, not a real name, a resident of Baghlan-i-Markazi district of Baghlan said that the gypsum in the district was illegally extracted by illegal armed men since long.
“They have also opened three processing factories just two kilometres away from the third battalion’s base, On average, each factory processes 10 tons of gypsum a day and transfer it to Kunduz, Kabul, Parwan and some other provinces besides Baghlan,” he said.
A worker in the mine, Shamsullah, alias name,, also told Pajhwok that the mine was illegally and unprofessionally dug.
“Government officials have launched a survey in the mine since last one month so the government itself take action for its extraction,” he said.
A security official in Baghlan-i-Markazi district, who wished to go unnamed, told Pajhwok that three gypsum processing companies were owned by TajGul, Hafiz and Dostum, three illegal local armed men who have been reported to the governor’s house and police.
Over 10 letters on illegal mining shared with relevant organs: Faizad
Baghlan Mines and Petroleum Director Eng. Shah MahmodFaizad said that Sheikh Jalal Gypsum Mine was illegally mined by illegal local commanders and their supporters.
“I have sent more than 10 letters to the governor’s house and police headquarters for prevention of the illegal mining,” he said. He once again voiced on organs concerned to take action for controlling illegal mining in the province.
Faizad confirmed that one of their teams was surveying the gypsum mine to calculate the amount of gypsum extractable.
Another local source told Pajhwok that up to 50 tons of gypsum was extracted from the mine on a daily basis which 15 tons of the mineral was processed and the rest other was wasted.
Baghlan police spokesman, Ahmad JavidBasharat said that the illegal mining issue had been shared with the police chief of Baghlan-i-Markazi district and he was ordered to prevent it.
He said that highway police forces had also been ordered to stop illegal transfer of gypsum, coal and other minerals.